This issue has me thinking about a different type of travel. Not beach vacations on the other side of the world or business trips somewhere close by. Instead, the idea of returning to a special place—maybe home, or maybe somewhere else with fond memories attached to it—came to the surface.
The photo shoot for our cover story with model-turned-coder Karlie Kloss (“Programming’s New Model”) took place in Los Angeles, the city where I was born. I stayed at the W Los Angeles—West Beverly Hills Hotel, practically on the campus of University of California, Los Angeles, where my dad received his PhD and where we lived. We left California when I was 3, and I hadn’t been back to the West Coast since I was visiting colleges over a decade ago—which I’m fairly certain makes me a bad New Yorker, not to mention travel writer. Yet all these years later, and without keeping in touch, I still felt a pull when I landed at LAX, a feeling without a name that told me that I belonged.
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After L.A., my family relocated to Columbus, Ohio, for a few years before settling in St. Louis, Missouri, which also happens to be Kloss’s hometown. In fact, we grew up in the same area, and she attended high school with my younger sister. Catching up with her felt like looking my youth in the face, especially as Kloss and I contemplated what it means to leave the Midwest and how visiting now feels like a sigh or a feather bed or a bowl of soup. I belong there, too. Leon Bridges (“Leaving Home“) can also relate to this feeling. The R&B artist, whose much-anticipated second album comes out in May, launched his career with a song called “Coming Home.” Now, after his music has taken him to cities such as Milan, Paris, and Sydney, among others, nothing beats returning home to Fort Worth, Texas. “On the road can be lonely,” he says. “It helps just knowing that I can come back home and be with family and friends.”
Yet the beauty of traveling is that you pick up family and friends all over the world. Every time I travel for Here Magazine, I play the game where I imagine living in each city. What would I do for work? Where would I get coffee? Would I belong? The brilliant part, of course, is that a small part of me belongs to everywhere I’ve been, and a very small part of each location belongs to me. In that sense, where we’re from, where we’ve been, and where we’re going is the very definition of self. And doesn’t that bring a whole new meaning to travel?